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Talkmobile vs Vodafone: what's different and the same

Vodafone vs Talkmobile

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Talkmobile are owned by Vodafone and use their network. So which is better, who has the better deals and are there coverage differences? We investigate. Last updated: 9th May 2023.

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Network differences and similarities

Mobile coverage on Vodafone vs Talkmobile

Do Talkmobile provide worse coverage than Vodafone?

Talkmobile and Vodafone with signal bars

4G/3G/2G coverage is identical between the two networks

Screenshot of Talkmobile’s company details

See about us page

at talkmobile.co.uk
(opens in new window)

Talkmobile were founded by Carphone Warehouse but were bought by Vodafone in 2015. They use Vodafone’s network for signal, but offer much better value deals. But does this mean you get a worse experience?

In our side-by-side tests for 2G (calls), 3G (calls and data) and 4G (mainly data) of a Talkmobile SIM card and a Vodafone SIM in the same phone, we got the same signal bars on each, in different locations.

The best part about Vodafone’s network is their call signal, with the joint-largest amount of the UK’s landmass covered. Their call signal is good at getting indoors, and they have the second largest 4G network.

So on these technologies, we’d say joining Talkmobile is the same as Vodafone for signal, so you shouldn’t notice a difference if you switch between them. Do use a coverage checker if you’re new to them though.

Useful link: Talkmobile’s network guide page

5G is the same on both networks as well

Explanation of Vodafone’s 5G speeds

Read latest 5G news

at Vodafone.co.uk
(opens in new window)

If you’re on a 5G-ready phone then you’ll like the fact that you get 5G on both Vodafone and on Talkmobile. Vodafone offer it on most plans (not on Basics plans) while Talkmobile offer 5G access on every plan.

Vodafone have the smallest number of live 5G locations at the moment (just 141+) out of UK networks, but coverage within those locations tends to be good. You’ll typically stay on it quite often, but this depends per location.

Talkmobile are a much cheaper way onto Vodafone’s 5G network than joining Vodafone themselves. Like we said, Vodafone don’t offer 5G on their cheapest plans, so Talkmobile are a good alternative.

In any case, it’s worth using each networks’ coverage maps below to see what 5G coverage will be like in your area.

Useful link: Vodafone’s guide to their 5G

Coverage checkers for Talkmobile and Vodafone

Test in all the places you take your phone

Talkmobile map

Screenshot of Talkmobile coverage map

Check Talkmobile signal

using Talkmobile's official map
(opens in new window)

Vodafone map

Screenshot of Vodafone's coverage map

Check Vodafone signal

using Vodafone's official map
(opens in new window)

Our verdict on coverage

No difference

“Talkmobile offer identical signal coverage to their hosts Vodafone. Your choice between the two will come down to the benefits and deals they offer, which you can see further down this page.”

Compare pricing and deals

Data Speeds on Talkmobile vs Vodafone

Do you get faster data speeds on Vodafone than on Talkmobile?

Talkmobile and Vodafone with speedometer

5G/4G data speeds are the same on both networks

Talkmobile network upgrades

Read 4G FAQ

at Talkmobile.co.uk
(opens in new window)

You might have some worries in the back of your mind that if you join a cheaper network like Talkmobile then you’ll get inferior speeds. We tested both networks in real life to put these worries to bed.

In real life, we got the same speeds on Talkmobile and Vodafone in different locations. We went as low as 5 Mbps in rural areas and as high as 110+ Mbps over 4G+ in the city centre on both.

Independent network testers Opensignal’s latest report puts typical speeds on Vodafone at 21.6 Mbps. We can see how speeds average out go give that result, but speeds will depend highly on where you use your SIM.

For 5G, Speedtest and Opensignal put typical speeds on Vodafone between 105.2 Mbps - 146.01 Mbps, with peak speeds up to 322.91 Mbps. Those are healthy speeds, and they’ll be the same on both networks.

Useful link: Vodafone’s speed capped unlimited plans

Our verdict on data speeds

No difference

“Talkmobile offer identical speeds to Vodafone over 4G and 5G. Like with coverage, your choice between the two networks will come down to what else they offer.”

Compare pricing and deals

Extra network features on Vodafone vs Talkmobile

What extra features do either network offer?

Talkmobile and Vodafone logos with cogs

Vodafone have a better WiFi/4G calling scheme

Vodafone WiFi calling screenshot

Check supported phones

at Vodafone.co.uk
(opens in new window)

WiFi calling lets your phone connect to calls using WiFi signal, and 4G calling does the same with 4G instead of conventional call signal (3G/2G). It’s good for staying connected where call signal can’t reach.

Talkmobile have recently introduced WiFi calling as a feature. But since Vodafone have had it for ages, it means it’s more of a well-established feature with them, where Talkmobile’s scheme has a few issues.

While Vodafone let you send SMS texts over WiFi/4G and let you transfer from a WiFi call to a 4G call without it dropping, Talkmobile’s scheme doesn’t let you do either of these.

And Vodafone have a much longer list of supported devices. Talkmobile do offer it on all plans while Vodafone don’t include it on Basics plans or on PAYG bundles, but Vodafone’s scheme is just better overall.

Useful link: Vodafone’s WiFi calling guide

Neither network has free WiFi hotspots

Vodafone banner with Underground sign and Big Ben

Read statement

at Vodafone.co.uk
(opens in new window)

Getting access to a network of free public WiFi hotspots with your mobile deal is a nice benefit you get with particular networks. But neither Vodafone or Talkmobile offer anything in this department.

Vodafone got rid of their free WiFi on the London Underground a while ago, which is a shame considering that’s a common place to lose signal so it’s incredibly handy to get free WiFi there.

Nationwide, Vodafone also don’t use their venture into home broadband to bring you any national network of hotspots either like you get on BT or O2. And Talkmobile don’t have anything either.

But you can get free WiFi on the go quite often anyway, so it’s not a huge loss. However, there are a few networks with great WiFi hotspot schemes for keeping you connected on the go.

Useful link: Our free WiFi hotspots guide

Our verdict on network features

Win for Vodafone

“Vodafone’s WiFi calling is a lot easier to get working and it’s just a better overall feature. Talkmobile’s WiFi calling has space to grow, but as it stands Vodafone offer the better network features.”

Compare pricing and deals

Comparing their benefits

Roaming on Talkmobile and Vodafone

Do either network still include EU roaming?


Vodafone restrict inclusive roaming to high end plans

More roaming than any other UK network banner

Read full benefits

at vodafone.co.uk
(opens in new window)

Vodafone now only include EU roaming on their priciest plans. If you’re not on one of those plans then you’ll have to pay for every day you use your SIM abroad.

You’ll now either have to pay a daily charge of £2 a day in EU destinations or £6 a day in worldwide destinations to access your allowance, or buy one of their “Xtras” plans.

These are Vodafone’s highest end plans with added benefits. Their non-unlimited plans with 3 Xtras include 51 EU roaming destinations. Their unlimited plan with 3 Xtras get you 83 inclusive worldwide destinations.

We don’t really like this. Your choice is essentially pay more while you’re abroad or pay more all the time to get free roaming. But if you’re always on the go, then we think they’re a fair choice.

Useful link: Our guide to the best roaming networks

Talkmobile now offer inclusive EU roaming again

Talkmobile roaming

See all destinations

at talkmobile.co.uk
(opens in new window)

Talkmobile removed EU roaming from their plans for a while, but they’ve recently brought it back. That means you can roam in these 41 EU destinations at no extra cost, giving them an advantage over Vodafone.

They have reduced their fair usage policy to just 5GB when it used to be 15GB. That can feel quite restrictive, especially for heavy data users. But most people won’t use that much on a short trip anyway.

If you hit your limit you will have to pay for a Euro Holiday Booster. This gives you unlimited calls, texts and an allowance of data (they say 15GB) to use for 1 day, 8 days or 15 days depending on what you need.

And they have no inclusive worldwide roaming at all, instead you’ll have to pay at these rates. Talkmobile are a great value choice for EU roaming, but not worldwide roaming.

Useful link: Talkmobile’s roaming guide

Our verdict on roaming

Win for Talkmobile

“Of the two, only Talkmobile let you roam in the EU at no extra cost. Vodafone are a more expensive option, but they might be better if you want to use lots of data in the EU or beyond. But the bottom line is Talkmobile include roaming on all plans, Vodafone don’t.”

Compare pricing and deals

Better benefits on Vodafone

What do Vodafone offer that Talkmobile don’t?

Vodafone better than Talkmobile

Vodafone offer a few smaller benefits

Vodafone VeryMe rewards

See example offers

at Vodafone.co.uk
(opens in new window)

If you’re big into websites like Groupon and other voucher websites, Vodafone’s VeryMe Rewards might appeal. It works via Vodafone’s app and sends you personalised offers on retail and services.

It’s Vodafone’s response to O2’s popular Priority app, but you don’t get quite as much with it. You do get a few freebies that can get you better value out of your deal. Talkmobile don’t have anything like it.

There’s also Vodafone’s Entertainment plans, which for a monthly extra cost, include an entertainment subscription of your choice from YouTube Premium, Spotify Premium or Amazon Prime.

Just bear in mind these usually cost about £5 - £6 more than the same plan without the subscription, so you might actually only be saving a pound or two depending on the price of the subscription.

Useful link: More about Vodafone's Entertainment plans

Better benefits on Talkmobile

What do Talkmobile get you that Vodafone don’t?

Talkmobile > Vodafone

No need to pass a credit check on Talkmobile

Screenshot of Talkmobile ID check questions

What they check

at Talkmobile.co.uk
(opens in new window)

Typically when you take a SIM only contract on most networks they’ll check your credit history to see if you’ve missed any payments in the past. They do this to make sure you’re likely to pay your bill reliably.

Vodafone run a credit check for theirs (apart from pay as you go). Talkmobile do not. They only run an ID check, which makes sure you are who you say you are (here’s how they check).

That makes them an excellent alternative if you’ve been rejected for a Vodafone SIM only plan, and you can even build your credit score if you keep paying your bill on time. That can help you join a phone deal later.

They’ve also got a decent system of spending caps that let you set a cap as £0 or anywhere upwards in £1 steps. That helps you avoid surprise bills, when Vodafone jumps in steps of £10 that could catch you out.

Useful link: Read our full Talkmobile review

Talkmobile’s customer service is better in our eyes

Talkmobile customer service options

How to contact them

at Talkmobile.co.uk
(opens in new window)

Lots of smaller networks don’t offer over-the-phone services so that they can offer better value deals. This does mean you can be left without a “real person” to help resolve any issues you run into.

Talkmobile buck that trend and publish details of how to just ring them nice and clearly on their website. And when you do ring them, we found you get through quickly and they’re good at dealing with your queries.

Vodafone’s customer service has got better over time and they now only get 2 complaints per 100,000 customers (down from 3 per 100,000) according to Ofcom, which is the industry average.

But it’s one of those situations where smaller is better. Vodafone have millions of customers to deal with. Talkmobile have relatively few, so find it easier to sort out their problems.

Useful link: How to get in contact with Vodafone

Our verdict on extra benefits

Depends what you like

“Ultimately if you prefer better customer service and don’t have the best credit history, Talkmobile are the better choice. If you want more of a premium experience, Vodafone are the better choice. It comes down to what you want.”

Compare pricing and deals

Pricing and deals differences

SIM only plans on Talkmobile vs Vodafone

Which offers better value on pay monthly SIMs?

Talkmobile vs Vodafone SIM only deals



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Special offers on Vodafone and Talkmobile

Here’s what promotions each have on this month

Talkmobile and Vodafone speical offers

Phone contracts on Talkmobile vs Vodafone

Which offers the best phone contracts?

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Vodafone’s phone contracts are more flexible

Phone comparison tool screenshot

Compare phone contracts

at simsherpa.com
(opens in new window)

Vodafone offer loads more phone models on contracts than Talkmobile, which makes sense considering they’re set up for selling phone deals. Their EVO plans give you great flexibility in building your phone plan.

These are “split contracts” which split the cost of your usage plan (mins, texts, data) and your device into separate payments. That lets you switch your usage plan before you’ve paid off your phone.

They also give you the flexibility to choose an upfront cost to reduce your monthly payment, choose a contract length between 12 and 36 months to suit your budget and you can pay lump sums when you wish.

You can also go with third party resellers to get a better deal, though your contract won’t be nearly as flexible. Use our comparison tool below to compare Vodafone’s prices against going with a reseller.

Useful link: Compare phone contracts with us

Talkmobile also offer phone contracts indirectly

Screenshot of Fonehouse talkmobile phone contract page

See range of models

at fonehouse.co.uk
(opens in new window)

This can be a good option if you’ve been rejected for a phone deal in the past. You can take a SIM only contract on Talkmobile, pay your bills on time, take out a phone deal then continue to build your credit score.

If you’d rather get one right away you can take out a Talkmobile phone deal from third party resellers such as Fonehouse. These work the same as Talkmobile’s phone contracts, but are usually cheaper.

The range of phones (which you can see here) focuses on lower-cost models but still has some iPhone and Samsung Galaxy ones. They’re decently priced too, so definitely worth a look.

Useful link: Compare all phone contracts

Our verdict on phone contracts

Depends on what you want

“For a flexible contract on the latest, high-end models you’ll prefer Vodafone. However, Talkmobile can be a better choice if you haven’t got a great credit history or if you want the best possible value out of your phone deal.”

Compare pricing and deals

More guides about Vodafone

More Talkmobile guides